21 Aug The Psychology of the “Like”

If you’ve never posted a Facebook status that you found funny/amusing/interesting, and then anxiously spent the next hour checking your phone or computer obsessively to see who “liked” it, then you probably don’t use Facebook. The Facebook “like” is now a form of social validation that is valued by users of the ubiquitous social network as much as a real life high five or pat on the back. These likes should be just as coveted by brands as they are by individuals, for a not-so-obvious reason. Yes, similar to the individual’s approach to likes, having a lot of them translates into your brand looking “cool” but, the act of liking your brand’s page resonates deeper with the consumer than you realize.

There’s a psychological connection between the consumer/brand page “like” relationship. In the years before social media and even online advertising, where advanced targeting has made the ad experience much more personal, traditional advertising mediums assumed consumers wanted to interact with the brand in magazines, television, on the side of a bus. This led to the perception of advertising being pushy and invasive. The Facebook “Like” changed this. When a brand asks a consumer to like their page, they are really asking the consumer for two things: permission to join a portion of the user’s social world, and in that process, do that brand a favor.

In the human psyche doing someone a “favor” is a shared experience that registers as a relationship builder. In most cases, hitting the like button takes less than a second, but that action resonates with the consumer on a deeper level. For a more relatable example, think of the last time you walked into a store and held the door for another shopper on the way in, chances are you recognized that person the next time you saw them in an aisle or at check out, more so than the other shoppers in the store who you may have seen more frequently. Why?

Because you and that person had a brief shared experience that registered as a relationship. In the same way, when a consumer “likes” a brand on Facebook, there is an experience that may be fairly one-sided, but never the less, and experience that registers as a relationship.

How does this benefit marketers? Another human psychological process makes us far less inclined to simply walk away from a relationship, especially one that we’ve “worked” to build. The exception to this is, of course, when there is some type of catalyst that encourages the user to walk away (in this case “unlike”) from a relationship. Essentially, in the case of marketers, Facebook likes, and brands, once you’re in, you’re in, unless you do something to change the consumer’s mind. Here are a few tips to building a lasting relationship with your consumers;

1.    Ask your potential consumers to like your page. But don’t ask them to like you “just because”. Give them an incentive, whether it’s a giveaway, contest, or simply the promise of breaking news and updates on their favorite brand right in their newsfeed.

2.    Don’t be invasive or annoying. Facebook (and other social media) has become a very personal experience, too many suggested posts and facebook ads will be seen as invasive and annoying.

3.    Stay true to your initial request for a like. Don’t spam user’s Facebook feeds with irrelevant posts and content that has nothing to do with your brand. Giveaways, Contests and Content should all relate back to the reason a user liked you, your brand, industry, or product.

4.    Don’t become a nuisance. An active account can do wonders for a brand, but an overactive account will only lead consumers to the little “unlike” button at the top of the page. Aim for 3-5 posts a week, not a day.

5.    Appreciate your audience. Just like it’s always polite to say thank you when someone does something for you, it’s the same on Facebook. Create a “fans only” area on your page with breaking news and behind the scenes pictures. Or coordinate an exclusive “fans only” contest.

What have you done to attract or maintain your Facebook audience? Share in the comments!

Sibet B Freides